The Neopian Pound - That's No Life
Once upon a time while on a hunt to earn the illustrious ‘Super Attack Pea’ avatar, I spent a lot of time at the Neopian Pound hoping to find a 'Pea Chia'. For anyone who is not familiar with that avatar, you need to have a Pea Chia as one of your pets, and equip it with a Super Attack Pea - this is no simple feat. In addition to the attack pea costing a fortune, there is no pea coloured paint brush available, so you have very limited options to obtain a Pea Chia to help you with your mission.
I never had any luck finding a Pea Chia available for adoption, and like many Neopians I turned to the Secret Laboratory for help. I thought a lot about the population problem facing Neopia today, and decided it was better to adopt a pet to experiment with rather than creating a new pet myself and adding to the problem. I would visit the Neopian Pound and adopt a random Chia (of any colour). I would take that Chia to the lab every day and "zap" it. I continued with this pet until eventually it changed colour. If it turned a colour other than the desired 'Pea' I was hoping for, I would return that pet to the pound with its new fancy paint job, as I knew it would be adopted quickly now that it looked prettier. Zapping a nicely painted pet just didn’t seem right.
Once I abandoned the pet, I would repeatedly search in the pound to make sure it was in fact adopted. My plan was that if it was still in the pound a week later, I would take it back - but it never happened. The pets would always be adopted within hours, sometimes even just minutes. I then started the process over by finding a new Chia to adopt. Doing this and seeing the results made me realize that after getting the avatar (which I eventually did), there must be a way I could do this more permanently to help more pets find new families.
This inspired me to begin regularly fostering abandoned neopets and helping them find good homes. The process starts with a search in the pound, where I look at each available pet one by one to determine who most needs my help. Today, I not only help Chias, but pets of all species.
The one thing that upset me most during my visits to the pound was not just seeing abandoned pets of any kind, but particularly pets that had less than desirable names, low battledome stats, and are a basic common colour. I could always tell which pets would have the most trouble being chosen for adoption. I tested this theory many times, recording horribly named, basic pets. I would search for them daily, and sure enough, some of them never did leave the pound. That made me really sad. I took this into consideration when coming up with my adoption criteria.
Criteria for adoption today:
1. The pet must have a less than desirable name. This could include anything from a pet whose name is all numbers, to a pet whose name you cannot pronounce, or a pet whose name is just something silly.
2. The pet needs to be a plain, unpainted colour.
3. The pet needs to have low Battledome stats.
These poor pets have nothing good going for them to make them look appealing to potential new owners. Sadly, people will look for a pet with better qualities and totally overlook these wonderful pets as a result. It is my goal to help improve these pets that otherwise have low chances of ever finding a permanent home.
While I am taking care of the pets, as well as attempting to improve them, I try to do a variety of things to make their lives more enjoyable.
Things you can do with your foster neopet:
• Feed your neopet really well. They have probably been neglected and all alone for a while. Usually when you adopt these pets, they are starving or dying, and need some immediate TLC. Treat them to a 5-course meal! If you don't want to spend any neopoints, have a look through your Safety Deposit Box and see what food items you have saved in there. Your pet will genuinely appreciate anything you can share.
• Play games with your pet. Let them have some fun! Show them what a good life can be like.
• Play with toys with your pet to make their mood ‘Delighted!’ – this is the happiest they can possibly be and means you’ve done a great job.
• Take your pet to the Movie Theater and feed them popcorn – this is free once a day and a great way to spend quality time together. Play Kacheek Seek. Visit Mystery Island and take them on a Tiki Tour (it’s only 25 np!). Play some beach volleyball while you’re there. Visit the Harbour and take a ferry ride. Take them to your favourite land in Neopia and show them around. There are an endless amount of fun things you can do together.
• Try to earn Battledome stats for your pet while they are in your care. Why not complete an inexpensive Kitchen Quest while having that pet active in hopes for a stat increase? Every little bit helps.
• Take your pet to the Secret Laboratory daily. I have tossed and turned on this one many times. After weighing the benefits and drawbacks of using the Secret Laboratory, I feel that in the long-run it’s in the best interest of these pets if they are to ever have a chance to make it out of the pound. A plain pet with a horrible name and terrible stats is not appealing. But, a pet with a horrible name painted Robot suddenly becomes very adoptable. You may even end up with an avatar pet which benefits you and/or the new owners, as well as making the pet more adoptable and happy in general.
• Equip a petpet to your pet. This will provide a friend that can keep them company any time you are away from your computer, and can remain a companion while they continue on their journey. If you don’t want to spend a lot of neopoints, there are many inexpensive petpets available, some cost as little as 1np. You probably have some in your Safety Deposit Box already. Any petpet will do, your foster pet will not pass judgement and will appreciate and love whatever friend it has.
• Right before you send your pet back to the pound on their journey to adoption, place them in the Neolodge for 7 days in the 5-star AstroVilla hotel so they can relax in luxury while waiting for a new family. This way you know they will be well fed and cared for during the transition. Plus, they deserve a little vacation after all they've been through! It only costs 500np a night. If that is too costly for your budget, pick another hotel. The least expensive is only 5np a night, though that’s not a very nice hotel, so pick the best one that you can afford.
We can all do our part to help control the overcrowding in Neopia. Too many people create pets without thinking through the long term responsibilities and then abandon them, leaving them helpless and afraid in the pound. More people would adopt these pets versus creating new ones if more of them had better qualities. Since I cannot stop people from abandoning pets, I focus on what I CAN do. If you have room for any more pets on your account, you can help too. The cost will be minimal to you, but the difference you will make is priceless.
COSTS TO HELP:
• Adoption fee: varies depending on the pets stats, but the fee is low for this type of pet
• Small costs for fun things to do: varies depending on how much fun you want to have! A lot of these things are free.
• Fee to abandon the pet when it’s time to set them free: 250nps
• The only big expense: the Secret Laboratory Map pieces that you need to buy in order to access the lab. It's costly, but hopefully you already have access to the lab - in which case this is free for you to do! If you are newer to Neopia and plan on collecting avatars, the lab ray can be very useful to you to achieve many of those other avatars as well. Helping to foster these pets is a bonus!
As you can see, a small charitable contribution financially, combined with your time and love can be very rewarding. There is nothing more exciting then turning an unwanted pet into something spectacular. The feeling of joy you get from searching his/her name one minute after you've released it back to the pound, and seeing that it has already been adopted, is so fulfilling. All you can do from there is hope the new owner appreciates their wonderful companion more than the first, and that these pets have found a forever home. Sometimes it's sad to see them go as it's easy to become attached after spending so much time with them. I rest easy knowing that they will do very well and that I can move on to help more abandoned neopets find a second chance at a good life. I hope this inspires some of our fellow Neopians to help!